What's up with this weather. It was boiling hot last week (and today I turned the heat back on - which I really don't mind), but I just happened to choose to spend a few days in NYC then. Ugh. Swollen feet on me, and a panting dog. We needed to walk around. Why else go to the city? At a certain point I left Allegra, the dog, home and carried on. I met friends for various delicious meals.
MONDAY NIGHT DINNER WITH ROBERT at the East village location of Zabb Elee. Zabb Elee is a unique Thai restaurant. You're not going find chicken satay with peanut sauce or pad thai or fish coconut curry there. Oh no. This place specializes in the cuisine of Northeastern (near the border with Laos) Thailand. It's meat heavy and very spicy. Not for the faint-hearted.
. Larb Ped - ground duck with shallots, mint, scallions, with chili and lime sauce. You can choose from a variety of meats to star in the larb which is the restaurant's most famous dish. It's wisely served with big, thick cucumber slices. You need a bite every now and then to cool your tongue.
. Yum Moo Krob - crispy pork with shallots, celery, tomatoes, pickled garlic, with chili and lime sauce.
. Som Tum Thai - papaya salad with dried shrimp, peanuts and - you guessed it - chili and lime sauce
All of this was served with little peaks of the best sticky rice. Thank goodness. It got a bit too spicy for me. Robert loved it.
BREAKFAST, EVERYDAY, WITH ALLEGRA (that's not Allegra in the photo) at The Bean, at their 2nd avenue & 3rd street location, where they've just moved having been kicked out of their 1st avenue and 3rd street location by Starbucks. Guess what? The Bean moved to the other end of the block and is doing a thriving business, and Starbucks is empty. Yay! The Bean is dog-friendly (a counter-top bucket of biscuits welcomes them) and makes a nice, smooth iced coffee.
TUESDAY LUNCH WITH LOUISE at Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria about which I've waxed rhapsodic on more than one occasion on this blog. It continues to delight.
. Tiny fried artichokes - crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside
. Chicory salad - which was a mixture of bitter greens including radicchio and that beautiful pale green leaf with deep rose brushstrokes called Castelvetrano, dressed with anchovy flavored breadcrumbs, lemon, and peppery, Umbrian olive oil.
. Grilled octopus with thinly sliced green almonds, roasted kumquats, and farro with yogurt.
. Grilled, house-made sausage with fabled Umbrian lentils.
. Orange polenta cake - something like an orange upside-down cake - with amaretto ice cream sitting on a bed of amaretti dust
The basket of house-made bread served with a little dish of that peppery olive oil disappeared. Quickly.
TUESDAY DINNER - take-out from Souen. Curry miso ramen with vegetables.
WEDNESDAY LUNCH WITH ROY - at Balaboosta the newish restaurant of the Israeli chef/owner, Einat Admony. Balaboosta is a Yiddish word meaning a woman who can do everything. The perfect housewife, etc. The eponymous restaurant is filled with well-thought interpretations of all your favorite Middle Eastern food, and then some. Chef Einat drives a baby pink Vespa. Need I say more?
. Fried olives - offered by manager, Laurent, who managed Mogador (another favorite spot) for years - sitting on top of house-made labane - thick yogurt - with a ring of harissa oil.
. Patatas bravas - fried potato chunks coated with za'atar - a Middle Eastern spice mixture - served with roasted garlic aioli
. A Mediterranean Sampler; hummus with a faint finish of orange blossom water, roasted red pepper salad with almonds, and the smokiest babaganoush, all served with za'atar pita. My mouth is still watering
. Chard-wrapped meatballs in a lemony broth with fresh fava beans served with grilled bread.
. Banana bread pudding with date sauce served with yogurt ice cream
WEDNESDAY DINNER - crackers with almond butter
By the time I left the city it had cooled down to beautiful spring weather. Lots of puffed-out pink, and white trees giving the city just the punctuation it wants.
I took a trip out to Kinderhook to visit the Samascott Garden Market. Their truck was at the Saturday morning Hudson Farmer's Market but they didn't bring the newly harvested asparagus and rhubarb with them. I've been waiting all year for asparagus. Yes, I know it's available the year 'round in supermarkets. But, on this one, I won't budge. Asparagus needs to be local. I came home and made what must be one of my all-time favorite meals - blanched asparagus with poached eggs with a shower of grated Parmesan cheese.